Strengthening the intellectual foundation for our profession of arms.

DEF Australia

DEF Australia is a network of serving military personnel who debate future concepts and progress ideas into tangible action. DEF Aus 17 will be held on 14-15 Dec 17 at the Australian Defence College, Canberra. Detailed information here.

Driving Innovation Forward: Why Tempo Is Everything

August 2nd, 2017 by Tim Jones

A commander must accustom his staff to a high tempo from the outset and continually keep them to it. If he once allows himself to be satisfied with norms, or anything less than an all-out effort he gives up the ...

DEF Australia Letters from Talisman Sabre: The Four Currencies of War

July 13th, 2017 by Tom McDermott

Introduction: Ex TALISMAN SABRE and the Beast The Australian military is about to conduct its largest multi-national amphibious operation since the landing of the 7th Australian Division in Balikpapan, Borneo in 1945. Over the next two weeks 33,000 Australian, American, ...

DEF AUS 16 – The ‘where are they now’ special

July 9th, 2017 by Jasmin Diab

  Like all good TV sitcoms after the last episode has aired and the cast has moved on to bigger and better things, we get dragged back to see where they are now and reminisce about how spectacular that show ...

Pragmatic Innovation for Military Strength – DEF Aus 17

July 2nd, 2017 by Clare O'Neill

BLUF: Access DEF Aus 17 Booklet here. Introduction – Who we are There is a culture of innovation and professional curiosity running through the veins of our defence force. We see it when junior leaders conspire together in messes to ...

Silos of Intellectual Excellence – A Response

July 2nd, 2017 by The Central Blue

Republished with permission from The Central Blue A response to Silos of Intellectual Excellence In her post on joint professional development, Emily Chapman made a powerful argument for closer collaboration between single service outlets, in order to expand intellectual horizons ...

Imagining the Future – Global Security in the Age of Autonomous Machines

June 4th, 2017 by Alistair Dickie

FOREWORD Clare O’Neill 2017 It can be a difficult and daunting activity to visualise the future operating environment when there are a myriad of different possibilities and problems at play. It can also be difficult to openly debate your ideas knowing the future may well ...

The Perils of Centralising Defence Innovation (and how to overcome them)

May 25th, 2017 by Tim Jones

As innovation gains momentum throughout defense forces, a common theme seems to be emerging. Militaries, in particular Western ones, are increasingly seeking to centralise their dispersed innovation cells into single innovation ‘hubs’ in order to better coordinate and deliver innovation ...

Silos of Intellectual Excellence

May 12th, 2017 by Emily Chapman

Republished with permission from The Central Blue  In this post, Emily Chapman makes the case for increased ‘jointness’ in professional education, outlining a number of proposals to increase collaboration across the services and prevent silos of intellectual excellence.  A single RAAF Officer pitched to a ...

Rethinking Force Structures: Delivering Tailored Forces

May 4th, 2017 by David Caligari

If our forces in action are to have utility, we need to organise our standing forces to reflect the change in paradigm and accommodate the need to form an appropriate force for each operation. General Sir Rupert Smith, The Utility ...

Enhancing Junior Leader Education Through Distributed Short Courses

April 7th, 2017 by Nicholas Waugh and John Shipp

BLUF. The Australian Army’s education of junior leaders is heavily focused on general outcomes, rarely fostering an environment that compels us to use our cognitive, analytical and intellectual abilities. The Australian Army should establish a series of short courses for ...

47 Pieces of a Puzzle: Reflections on DEF Aus 2016 and the Written Word

January 22nd, 2017 by Tom McDermott

The written word was the key weapon of the DEF Aus Forum 2016.  Over the course of seven months the DEF Australia Idea Pitchers and committee members wrote, proofed and published an impressive 47 original articles. These short pieces (none ...

DEFx 2016 Next Steps: ADF Mentoring Groups

January 18th, 2017 by Kathryn Christie and Kate Tollenaar

DEFx Australia 2016 was a forum on 8-9 Dec 16 where ranks up to Major presented their ideas for an enhanced ADF. The forum demonstrated a ground swell of interest in building Human Capability but also highlighted the gap between our Senior Leaders’ strategic ...

Reflections on the inaugural DEF Down under

December 22nd, 2016 by Brigadier Mick Ryan

From 08-09 December 2016, the inaugural Defence Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF) for the Southern Hemisphere was held in Canberra, Australia.  It was an exciting two days and ensured we all finished the year with an intellectual boost.  The first DEF [Aus] ...

Future Thinking – Crowdsourcing for Defence

December 8th, 2016 by Tim Jones

Innovation has always been a factor of military thinking to one degree or another, however in recent years it has been gathering momentum again. With increasingly complex operational environments, commanders are becoming more aware of the importance of innovative thinking. ...

Idea Pitch – Deployable Health and the Internet-of-Things: Ground Up Recommendations for the ADF’s Deployable e-Health Management Systems

December 6th, 2016 by Nick Alexander

Introduction ‘…compassion and technology aren’t necessarily incompatible, they can be mutually beneficial… machine oddly enough may be medicine’s best friend’ Dr. Atul Gawande – Complications1 I am first and foremost a clinician (a physiotherapist to be exact) and as such, ...

Idea Pitch – Humans Are More Important Than Hardware: Human Performance Optimisation in Army (Part 2)

December 5th, 2016 by Harry Moffitt

This is the second of two blogs by Harry Moffitt in support of his DEFx Idea Pitch.  In the first blog, Harry introduced the idea of Human Performance initiatives, and how they might be used to make the most of ...

Idea Pitch – Posting Teams NOT People

December 4th, 2016 by Johnny Ozols and Tom Day

Introduction Advances in the field of psychology are allowing experts to discern, more accurately than ever, the characteristics of an individual’s personality. In human resources, this is allowing people to be matched to vocations they enjoy, as they are more ...

Idea Pitch – Fighting Power, Intellectual Mastery and the Challenge of Teaching (Part 2)

December 2nd, 2016 by Steve Cotterill

Introduction My first blog explored the reasons why I think Army is not realising the full intellectual potential of the personnel in our force. I explained how I felt that Army does not deliver or teach knowledge from doctrine or on individual ...

Idea Pitch – Future Vertical Lift: Shaping the Australian Defence Force’s Rotary Future

December 2nd, 2016 by Robert Andrew

Introduction From the beginning of the Korean War, and in every major theatre of conflict since, the battlefield helicopter has proven its worth and enhanced combat operations. To the colonial Americans of the 19th century, the names Kiowa, Apache, Blackhawk, ...

Idea Pitch – Humans Are More Important Than Hardware: Human Performance Optimisation in Army (Part 1)

December 1st, 2016 by Harry Moffitt

Introduction Human Performance (HP) describes efforts to maximise the potential of people in contributing to organisational objectives. HP is a complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon that requires an approach that is multi-disciplinary and interdependent. The tangible benefits of human performance optimisation are, ...

Idea Pitch – Fighting Power, Intellectual Mastery and the Challenge of Teaching (Part 1)

November 29th, 2016 by Steve Cotterill

Introduction Throughout 2013 and 2014 I had the privilege to be an instructor at RMC-D. During this period I watched hundreds of staff cadets study diligently to learn a huge amount of information in six weeks of theory lessons. I ...

Idea Pitch – Local Mentoring Nodes – Developing Human Capital

November 29th, 2016 by Kathryn Christie and Kate Tollenaar

Introduction BLUF: A pilot Barracks Mentoring Group provides a model for joint professional military education, to engender cultural change and facilitate mentoring at the tactical level. This model can be established as an ADF wide initiative as a way of ...

Idea Pitch – A Joint Professional Military Education Association

November 29th, 2016 by Emily Chapman

As a passionate advocate of Professional Military Education (PME), I commend the efforts of the Australian Army personnel who have established The Postern Association. Founded in a desire to build intellectual mastery within the Australian Army, there is little doubt ...

Idea Pitch – An ADF Leadership Development Institute: Developing the Next Gen Leaders for the ADF and Australia

November 28th, 2016 by Tom Larter

Introduction For years I have pondered about the way we train leadership in the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force (ADF). How much of our success is testament to the experiential training model, and how much is attributed to ...

Idea Pitch – All Eyes (Ears and Tongues) on the Not-So-Far-East

November 24th, 2016 by Jonathan Hibbert

Disclaimers: The figures used here are drawn from the most recent figures attained from education administrators, and the Manager Languages – Army. To limit the scope of this topic, the discussed niche is the Officer Corps, though the rationale used ...

Idea Pitch – Cultural Training in the Army

November 22nd, 2016 by 2nd Cavalry Regiment

The Chasm: Physical and Human Terrain, Training and Reality We believe that Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is not a desirable capability – it is critical. Cultural training through Army’s force generation (FORGEN) system is (we believe) inadequate, providing a surface deep, ‘just-in-time’ ...

Idea Pitch – Battlefield Mobility and the Flyboard Air

November 18th, 2016 by Matt Whitwell

Introduction On 30 April 2016 French jet ski champion Franky Zapata broke the world record for the longest hoverboard flight on his newly designed craft. Zapata piloted his Flyboard Air a distance of 2252m in less than seven minutes. Video ...

Idea Pitch – Improving the Less Than Lethal Shotgun capability

November 16th, 2016 by James Alexander

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has fulfilled a wide range of tasks across the spectrum of conflict and military operations. This is not likely to change in the future and therefore it is incumbent upon the ADF to train and ...

Idea Pitch – A Cultural and Regional Training Continuum

November 8th, 2016 by James Haw

Bottom Line Up Front – An Australian Regional, Culture and Language Familiarisation Program (RCLF) The Australian Army’s ability to operate in complex and human-dense environments is enhanced through cultural and regional training. If the Australian Army is to become a ...

The Postern Association – Framework (Part 4 of 4)

November 2nd, 2016 by Clare O'Neill

Thanks for the feedback so far on the Postern Association – it’s been a great response! We are very excited about the prospect of gathering the intellectual and innovative minds from around our Army at the DEF[X] in December in ...

The Postern Association – What’s In A Name? (Part 3 of 4)

November 1st, 2016 by Clare O'Neill

There are many practicalities in choosing a name for a new association. Thankfully many smart minds were on hand from the DEF team to firstly set the criteria for the name and then muse (and sometimes argue robustly discuss) the ...

The Postern Association – The Vehicles for Intellectual Mastery (Part 2 of 4)

October 31st, 2016 by Clare O'Neill

“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if ...

The Postern Association (Part 1 of 4)

October 30th, 2016 by Clare O'Neill

This year a small and dedicated team of Australian Army personnel has been bringing together the DEF Australia activities. This team believes that professional development and innovation are best done as collective activities, and also that initiatives need to think beyond short term ...

Taking A Step Forward On Drones

October 27th, 2016 by Tim Jones

Last week two French soldiers were wounded and two Kurdish fighters were killed in Iraq by a weaponised Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) drone[1]. This has sent shock waves across Western defence forces, with many looking for an innovative means ...

Idea Pitch – Head Up, Eyes on Target, Hands on Weapon

October 11th, 2016 by Robert Morris

Augmented Reality and the Future Australian Soldier The augmented reality (AR) game Pokémon GO was recently released in Australia, and became an instant sensation. Quietly, on the other side of the world, the Israeli Army purchased its first two sets ...

Future Thinking – Adaptive Tanking

October 8th, 2016 by Lucas Guglielmi

The evolution of Russian armoured combat power since 1991                                                               ...

Future Thinking – Cyberspace: A Contested Domain

September 30th, 2016 by Dave Cave

Australia and Australians are targets for malicious actors—including serious and organised criminal syndicates and foreign adversaries—who are all using cyberspace to further their aims and attack our interests – The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister, April 2016 ‘the ADF ...

Future Thinking – Recruiting the Uniformed Cyberwarrior

September 28th, 2016 by Luke Blackmore

The recently released 2016 Defence White Paper prescribed a re-balancing of 1200 Australian Public Service positions to be generated to support growth in intelligence, space and cyber security across Defence. The Army, RAN and RAAF continue to grow their respective ...

Idea Pitch – Online Short Courses for Professional Military Education

September 22nd, 2016 by John Shipp

The Problem – the ‘Fire Hose’ Approach to Education As the recent Ryan Review noted, the Australian Army’s current system of Professional Military Education (PME) is not broken, but needs reinvigoration. There are long stretches between officer promotion courses when ...

Future Thinking – Attrition and the Next Air Defence Battle

September 14th, 2016 by Mike Squire

The forces that we prepare today will be the forces that we take into the battle tomorrow. For the Air Defence capability, that battle may last a matter of seconds; however, the effect of that first battle may be decisive ...

Future Thinking – Space Culture: What do we need for the Future Fight?

September 5th, 2016 by Richard Harrison

Space is a domain that is increasingly contested, congested and competitive. As the cost and technical barriers to space diminish, the range of states and non-state actors able to access space (either directly or by leveraging another’s capabilities) continues to ...

Innovation Toolbox – Innovation: Why do we need it in the military? (Part 1 of 3)

August 29th, 2016 by Jamie Martin

The idea was fantastically, wildly improbable. But like most fantastically, wildly improbable ideas it was at least as worthy of consideration as a more mundane one to which the facts had been strenuously bent to fit. Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide ...

Information – DEF Aus: What You Need to Know

August 21st, 2016 by Clare O'Neill

Short of time and can’t read the whole post? BLUF: Here is the DEF Aus Information Pack Here is where you can register for DEF[X] Aus in Canberra from 08-09 December 2016 If you have further questions then email: defaustralia@gmail.com ...

Information – Register for DEF[X] Aus

August 21st, 2016 by DEF Aus Committee

We have been talking about DEF Australia for a while now but how do you register for DEF[X] Aus? It’s simple register at Eventbrite. We also strongly encourage you to read this DEF Aus post and the Information Pack for more detailed ...

Tune in, Listen up and Learn.

August 11th, 2016 by Sharon Mascall-Dare and Mick Cook

Like radio, the podcast creates a ‘theatre of the mind’. Imagination is a powerful tool when learning, creating new neural pathways that fuel understanding. ...

Professional Military Education and Innovation – An Historical Perspective

July 31st, 2016 by Anthony Lias

After recently embarking on a new phase of professional study I have developed a renewed appreciation of the importance that historical lessons can play in understanding the future of war. History presents us with many lessons relevant to the role ...

Cauldron of Complexity – Are germs the next #FutureFight?

July 27th, 2016 by Jasmin Diab

As I cough and sniffle, suffering the effects of a Canberra winter, I remember that germs have two effects on us. First, they help us build an immunity to the common cold and illness and, second, they have the ability ...

DEF Australia Letters from HAMEL Part 3: The Operational Level of War. What is it Good For?

July 12th, 2016 by Tom McDermott

The Op HAMEL intervention is ending.  With the Kamarian Armed Forces in retreat and the International Boundary restored, peace is steadily returning to East Cultania.  Grateful Cultanians line the streets, thanking the ANZUS (and British) coalition for their help.  For another year the Australian Army has trained for what is probably the most ...

DEF Australia Letters from HAMEL Part 2: Just War and Tactical Ethics in a Brutal World 

July 10th, 2016 by Tom McDermott

Many of you who read this will be tacticians.  Congratulations, and good luck.  You’ve volunteered for one of the hardest, most illogical and least predictable jobs going.  Every tactician is, at heart, a problem solver.  The problems you face may vary in context, but the ...

DEF Australia Letters from Hamel Part 1: The Duel, the Enemy and Psychological Mastery 

July 8th, 2016 by Tom McDermott

I’ve just watched a Rehearsal of Coordination (ROC) Drill on Ex HAMEL, and I’m struck by a thought.  I had the same thought when teaching tactics and planning at the British Staff College.  The thought is as follows: As western militaries ...